2022 joint overall LEN Open Water Cup champion Ginevra Taddeucci of Italy made a winning start to the new season with a 10km victory, while Frenchman Marc-Antoine Olivier claimed the men’s title in Eilat, Israel.
With high winds predicted for later in the day, race officials took the decision bring the start time forward by half-an-hour and were rewarded with ideal conditions in the Red Sea.
In addition to the LEN Open Water Cup competition the race also doubled up as the Israeli Swimming Championships, which were an open event and therefore enabled athletes from outside of Europe to compete.
The women’s race featured six Australian’s who were using the competition as a selection event for this year’s World Aquatics Championships and as such they had a significant impact on the pace of LEN Open Water Cup competitors.
Unlike her continental rivals Taddeucci decided she would go with Australian trio Chelsea Gubecka, Madeline Gough and Moesha Johnson when they broke from the pack.
The Italian touched in one hour 54 minutes and 04.4 seconds, just behind Gubecka and Gough, but took the LEN Open Water Cup title.
“Obviously I’m very happy for the result,” Taddeucci told LEN.
“It was harder for me in the first laps but at the end I realised that I could do it and I tried to touch in the first three positions.”
Portugal’s Angelica André, who claimed her maiden major international honour with 10km third at Roma 2022, took silver, while Hungarian world junior open water champion Bettina Fabian won the battle for bronze against experienced duo Aurelie Muller and Leonie Beck.
The LEN Open Water Cup men’s race was also impacted by selection-chasing Australians but it was Hungary’s male World junior open water champion David Betlehem who led after the first two of six laps.
Olympic silver medallist Kristof Rasovszky was forced to withdraw after taking an elbow to the nose and Italian world champion Gregorio Paltrinieri edged ahead at the halfway stage.
He would slip off the pace though in the latter half of the race, but in his place and ensuring there would be strong Italian presence on the podium were European gold medallist Domenico Acerenza and Marcello Guidi.
They finished second and third respectively behind the impressive Olivier, who finished in 1:47:56.2.
“We had the sun and the sea felt like a lake which I prefer to swim in, so it was a very good day for me,” Olivier told LEN.
The second leg of the LEN Open Water Cup 2023 will take place in Piombino, Italy, on 13 May.